Preliminary work to demolish Brighton’s “ugliest building” has started, in the hope it will start coming down in late summer.
First Base has been exploring the possibility of making the non-affordable elements of the scheme “build to rent” and has appointed Henry Construction Projects to make changes to the scheme to make it more viable.
One of these, already approved by city planners, is to bring down the height of the towers by reducing the floor to ceiling height of each floor. Each tower’s footprint is also being slightly reduced.
Five of the two-bedroom wheelchair accessible flats have also lost some bedroom space to ensure the rest of the flat meets accessibility building codes.
In a planning application asking for permission to reduce the height of the towers – which has since been granted – Henry Constructions Ltd said: “Prior to submitting this application, the original applicant (First Base), discussed the principle of the changes with Sarah Collins of Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) in July 2018.
“First Base later commenced discussions to bring the Site forward as a ‘Build To Rent’ (BTR) scheme (subject to separate discussion with BHCC), and the design review of the approved scheme was briefly put ‘on hold’.
“Negotiations have now been completed and our client, Henry Constructions Ltd have been instructed to commence work on the scheme including securing the appropriate permissions for minor non-material amendments to the approved scheme.
“Following the detailed design of the scheme and a review of the rising construction costs, a number of changes are now proposed to the consented scheme to ensure the project remains deliverable.”
The company’s spokeswoman Olaide Oboh said: “We remain focused on bringing this forward to deliver much needed homes and workspace.
“We are working closely with our partners and will provide further updates in due course.”
She added it was hoped demolition would start in September.
First Base was given the green light to knock down Anston House in Preston Road in December 2016, and replace it with three 13 to 15-storey buildings containing shops, offices and 229 flats – just 30 of which will be affordable housing.
A Section 106 agreement took another year to negotiate and was finally signed in October 2017. It includes a clause requiring First Base to make an additional affordable homes contribution if after five years, the scheme has made more than the forecast 17% profit.
First Base is also required to make contributions of £592,664 for parks and leisure centres, £397,780 to local schools and nurseries, £125,115 to transport improvements, £69,900 to local employment and £120,000 on public art.
Last June, it said further delays were down to soaring building costs in the industry, but it hoped that work would start that summer and Anston House would be demolished within months.